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Archive for October, 2016

days-of-rakes-and-roses

Kindle edition – 93 pages

(Sons of Sin, #1.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency 1816 &1826)

Cover Blurb:

Lady Lydia Rothermere has spent the past decade trying to make up for a single, youthful moment of passion. Now the image of propriety, Lydia knows her future rests on never straying outside society’s rigid rules, but hiding away the desire that runs through her is harder than she could have ever dreamed. And as she prepares for a marriage that will suit her family, but not her heart, Lydia must decide what’s more important: propriety or passion?

Simon Metcalf is a rake and adventurer. But for all his experience, nothing can compare to the kiss he stole from the captivating Lydia Rothermere ten years ago. Simon can scarcely believe he’s about to lose the one woman he’s never forgotten. The attraction between them is irresistible, yet Lydia refuses to forsake her engagement. With his heart on the line, will Simon prove that love is a risk worth taking?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Days of Rakes and Roses was originally released in July 2013 but regrettably it was not available to purchase in the UK until earlier this year. In the intervening three years, I read all the other books in the excellent Sons of Sin series. Now reading this lovely second-chance romance is just like enjoying a small but delicious dessert after the main course and I can definitely confirm that it can be read as a standalone.

I adore Simon. He truly loved Lydia but, when her father caught them in a compromising situation, he was forced to leave England or see his family destroyed. Simon knew that he could never have asked Lydia to run away with him because, as a penniless second son, he could never offer her a life worthy of her. So he had struggled to forget Lydia, drinking and whoring his way across Europe, but to no avail because:

…through all that time, nothing had erased the memory of the one woman he’d ever loved. And nothing had eased his yearning for her.

I could sympathise with Lydia’s situation. The Rothermere family has lived in the shadow of scandal for many years and Lydia has always been afraid of disappointing her father or tarnishing the family reputation. She has been in love with Simon forever but he always seemed impossibly out of reach. When she discovers that Simon feels the same way, she is willing to cast caution to the winds, but it costs her dearly. Finding Lydia in a compromising situation with Simon, her father’s retribution is swift and harsh and, from that moment on, she vows that she will be the epitome of propriety. Over the years, the passionate 17-year-old has become:

…a mature, sensible woman of twenty-seven marrying a mature, sensible man of forty-one. She was content with her decision.

So when Simon re-enters her life, Lydia is beset by all sorts of emotions. She still loves him but, for ten years, even after her father died, she had heard nothing from him, only the occasional report of his rakish exploits abroad. She’d finally accepted that he cared nothing for her and decided to move on with her life and marry Sir Grenville. I can understand her stubbornness in revealing her true feelings and trusting Simon with her heart.

I love that Simon is honest about his feelings for Lydia and prepared to fight for her even though he fears she no longer feels the same about him.

In his heart, she was his, she’d always be his. The problem was he had a strong suspicion that, while she may once have felt the same, she felt the same no longer.

Ms Campbell provides just enough conflict before these two can attain their overdue Happy Ever After.

I like how Camden, Lydia’s brother, wants her to be happy and feels she deserves better than a cold marriage with Sir Grenville and is even willing to weather any resulting scandal. I also like how he sees beyond Simon’s reputation:

Aren’t you worried that you invite a libertine into the family?”
Cam leveled an uncompromising stare on him as he lifted the decanter. “Do you mean to play my sister false?”
“Of course not.” He paused. “But how can you trust me?”
“You can’t have changed that much from the boy I grew up with.” Cam refilled both their glasses. “Anyway the best proof of Lydia’s hold on you is that you came the moment I sent for you.”

There is also a brief appearance by Sir Richard Harmsworth (A Rake’s Midnight Kiss).

MY VERDICT: Once again, Anna Campbell enchanted me with this short but captivating love story. If you haven’t read the Sons of Sin series, I can definitely recommend it to all lovers of historical romance.


REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read September 2016

 

The Sons of Sin series (click the covers for more details):

Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed (Sons of Sin, #1) by Anna Campbell Days of Rakes and Roses (Sons of Sin, #1.5) by Anna Campbell A Rake's Midnight Kiss (Sons of Sin, #2) by Anna Campbell What a Duke Dares (Sons of Sin, #3) by Anna Campbell A Scoundrel by Moonlight (Sons of Sin, #4) by Anna Campbell Three Proposals and a Scandal (Sons of Sin, #4.5) by Anna Campbell

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a-duke-to-remember

 (Season for Scandal, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1819)

Cover Blurb:

Love takes the stage…

Elise deVries is not what she seems. By night, the actress captivates London theatergoers with her chameleon-like ability to slip inside her characters. By day, she uses her mastery of disguise to work undercover for Chegarre & Associates, an elite agency known for its discreet handling of indelicate scandals. But when Elise is tasked with locating the missing Duke of Ashland, she finds herself center stage in a real-life drama.

Noah Ellery left the glamour of the London aristocracy to pursue a simpler life in the country. He’s managed to avoid any complications or entanglements—that is, until he lays eyes on Elise and realizes there’s more to this beautiful woman than meets the eye. But when Elise reveals her real identity—and her true feelings for him—the runaway duke must confront the past he left behind . . . to keep the woman he loves forever.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is the second novel in Kelly Bowen’s latest Season of Scandal series and, although I have not read the first book, I don’t think this adversely affected my enjoyment of A Duke to Remember. It definitely made me want to read the other books in the series.

The whole idea of Chegarre & Associates, a firm who provide effective solutions to scandals involving members of the ton, struck me as being original and I love the fact that two of the three partners in the business are women who do not conform to the normal roles expected of them.

Strong, confident, perceptive and smart, Elise once served as a tracker for the British Army and is handy with both a knife and a gun, proficiencies she demonstrates later in the book. Her part-time work as an actress enables her to adopt different disguises, useful in her work for Chegarre & Associates, whether she is posing as a moustached, bespectacled doctor or an exotic, masked French countess. Elise has been playing so many roles in her job and in the theatre that she doesn’t really know who she is anymore and I think this insecurity gives her an element of vulnerability making her seem more human.

Between this job and her work as a part-time actress at the Theatre Royal, she barely recognized herself anymore at any given moment. Every day brought a new role and a new deception to play out.

I can understand Noah’s feelings towards his parents He can never forgive the two people who should have loved and cared for him, but chose to abandon him to a hellish existence because he wasn’t perfect (the official blurb is very misleading because he did not leave the glamour of London society). I admire the way he reinvented himself and found a measure of happiness as a simple farmer and never wants to return to the world he was born into.

“I do not have a responsibility to anything,” he growled. “Not to my father, not to my mother. Not to Ashland’s piles of properties and strings of titles and coffers of money.”

Noah is kind, intelligent and sensitive and I could see how much he cares for and is protective of his sister Abigail, who had always championed and defended him. Their reunion scene really tugged at my heartstrings. In contrast, his years on the streets of London have taught him how to take care of himself and that street fighter comes into his own when danger threatens Elise.

I just loved everything about the romance – the heated attraction between them; the witty dialogue (I love how they steal each other’s lines); Noah’s tendency to blush; the way my heart gave a little flip when Noah gives Elise the rose; the raw, passionate love scene; the heartbreak and the joy. Ms Bowen writes with an emotional intensity which pulled me into the story and refused to let go.

 A melding of hearts and souls – I think this quote perfectly describes the connection between Elise and Noah. I love how Elise makes Noah believe that he can be anything he wants to be and gives him the strength and courage to take up his true position in society.

She believed in him. Even knowing everything that she did, she believed in him. More than he had ever believed in himself.

I love how Noah sees the real Elise.

“I see you, Elise DeVries. No matter what clothes you might wear or what mask you might assume, I see your courageous heart and I see your beautiful mind. I see your compassion and your hope, your resilience and your strength. If you do not know who you are, know that I do.”

I found so many of the secondary characters intriguing, among them:

  • Elise’s brother Alex who is a partner in Chegarre & Associates but also owns one of the most exclusive gaming hells in London frequented by some of the most influential and infamous members of the ton. These elite gamblers not only part with their money but also their secrets. (his book, Between the Devil and the Duke, is already on my must-read list).
  • Ivory Moore, founder of Chegarre & Associates, and her husband, the Duke of Alderidge (I bought their book, Duke of My Heart as soon as I had finished reading this one), who cleverly assist in establishing Noah’s credentials as the true Duke of Ashland. I love the scene at the solicitors where Noah and the duke pretend to be old friends – by the time the scene ended, they had me believing every word!
  • The mysterious King, described as a man as dangerous and as unpredictable as a pit viper. We learn some intriguing details about him during the course of the story including his connection to Noah, all of which made me hope the Ms Bowen has a book in the pipeline for him.

Francis Ellery is a self-serving villain through and through…a liar, a cheat and a gambler with heavy debts, who will stop at nothing to steal the Ashland title and wealth.

I like the warm-hearted Mrs Pritchard, Noah’s housekeeper, and I have a soft spot for animals in romances. Noah has a dog called Square and if you are thinking that’s a strange name for a dog, then you will have to read the book to discover why he’s so called.

MY VERDICT: This is a wonderful blend of an engaging story, well-drawn characters and delicious sexual tension. Highly recommended.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read September 2016

 

Season of Scandal series (click on the book cover for more details):

Duke of My Heart (Season for Scandal, #1) by Kelly Bowen A Duke to Remember (Season for Scandal, #2) by Kelly Bowen Between the Devil and the Duke (Season for Scandal, #3) by Kelly Bowen

 

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